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Professional News

Conversations with New Leaders Across Campus

By Mike Unger

Peter Starr

Photo: Carlos Puma

An impressive array of new administrators have joined AU this summer, and American Today wanted to get to know these accomplished people a little better. This is the first in an occasional series of Q&As with the newest members of the AU administrative team.




Peter Starr, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

What excited you most about coming to AU?
D.C. is probably the most vibrant city in the country today. There is so much going on here, in part because of all the cultural energy, in part because we’re at the center of a global political network. It’s a city that has extraordinary opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate research. American higher education today needs to build research opportunities and outreach to public entities into the curriculum on all levels. AU, by virtue of our long history and location, is ideally situated to help think through this new paradigm.

What is your primary academic interest, and how did you develop a passion for it?
My training is in comparative literature and culture, French and American most especially. There’s always some chance involved in how you become the kind of scholar you are. I was very interested for years in literary theory, especially because of its interdisciplinarity.

Have you ever lived in D.C. before?
I went to graduate school in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins, but my wife grew up here. In fact, we are now living a block and a half from her childhood home.

What museums or sights are you most looking forward to visiting?
It’s been 10, 15 years since I’ve truly been around the city, so I’m looking forward to seeing it all.

Anne Ferrante, Director of graduate programs, Kogod School of Business

What excites you most about coming to AU?
The opportunity to be immersed in such a vibrant, intellectually stimulating, and international city that creates a naturally rich learning community both inside and outside the classroom.

What role will you be playing at Kogod?
I joined Kogod in July 2009 as director of graduate programs, a newly created position with a key objective to continuously review the strategic positioning and quality of our graduate portfolio. In concert with our Kogod leadership team, I’ll be exploring new program opportunities that capitalize on Kogod competencies as well as AU strengths and reputation.

Additionally, I will have direct oversight for our MBA programs and will work closely with Kogod’s master’s programs directors to develop efficient operational processes that lead to quality learning experiences for Kogod students.

What is your primary academic interest, and how did you develop a passion for it?
My passion and academic interests focus on the development of talent for today’s global workforces.

Have you ever lived in D.C. before?
A while ago, when I worked in my senator’s office, I lived in the D.C. area and worked on Capitol Hill. More recently, D.C. became a second home when visiting our daughter who attended AU as an undergrad. It’s been fun observing how D.C. has evolved over the years and getting to know it again.

What museums or sights are you most looking forward to visiting?
I’d like to revisit some of the old favorites, several of which have undergone some renovations recently. Also, topping my list are the Phillips Museum, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and of course, the Newseum.

Phyllis Peres, Vice provost of undergraduate studies

What excites you most about coming to AU?
American University is a vibrant and engaged community of students, staff, and faculty. I am thrilled to be a part of a dynamic academic community that values its research and liberal arts mission.

What role will you be playing in the provost’s office?
As vice provost of undergraduate studies, I work closely with campuswide programs including AU Abroad/Abroad at AU, the Career Center and the Office of Merit Scholarships, General Education, Honors, and University College to enhance the academic undergraduate experience for all students. For 2009–2010, AU will engage in a review of the General Education program and also will implement the Frederick Douglass Scholars Program.

What is your primary academic interest, and how did you develop a passion for it?
In addition to my role as vice provost, I am a faculty member in foreign language studies. My scholarly interest is in the field of Portuguese studies, primarily in African (Angolan, Cape Verdean, etc.) literatures and cultures, as well as African culture in Brazil. Although I spoke Portuguese prior to doctoral studies in Spanish and Portuguese, my passion was sparked after reading a book called Luuanda by the Angolan writer José Luandino Vieira. The text was written in a creolized Kimbundu-Portuguese, and I was both fascinated and challenged to understand the language, culture, and politic of the narrative.

Have you ever lived in D.C. before?
I have lived in the D.C. metropolitan area for 19 years.

What are some of your favorite spots in the city?
My favorite places in D.C. are Dumbarton Oaks, the Kennedy Center, Rock Creek Park, and the numerous small neighborhood restaurants that are doorways to the rich ethnic communities of Washington.